Retired New York Times baseball writer Murray Chass is considered one of the godfathers of reporting on sports labor relations, and was honored by the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 2003 (right) as the winner of the J.G. Spink Award from the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Chass worked closely for many years covering Marvin Miller, the late czar of the MLB Players' Association and the mentor of current NHLPA czar Donald Fehr, so he intimately knows how Fehr operates.
So you should take Chass' column on Fehr posted on his personal Web site today as pretty solid analysis. The headline is "Bet on Fehr, Not Bettman."
Wrote Chass: "Major League Baseball’s annual revenue has soared beyond $7 billion, and baseball is so awash in money that the two sides don’t need to fight over caps and taxes. The N.H.L., meanwhile, remains in the dark ages of labor relations. Bettman has made sure they stay there with no apparent emergence or advance in sight."
Chass' column is a pretty insightful read. Another veteran baseball scribe, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, wrote an equally interesting column on Fehr last month.
Memo to hockey: This isn't 1978. Stop fighting the union. You need to form a partnership. By the end of the current labor deal, baseball will have 22 consecutive years without a work stoppage. And the sport has never been healthier (don't talk to me about television ratings either. That's hardly a reflection of the health of the game).
Those that foolishly waste the airwaves with "the employer always wins" rants on this lockout simply don't grasp what baseball has done for nearly two decades. And Fehr was a big part of that. The NHL's turf-war strategy has been flawed from the beginning.